The Collider: Year in Review

What a great year at The Collider! Here’s a snapshot.

The Collider officially opened its doors in March 2016. A year later:

  • More than 40 businesses and organizations are working from our beautiful top-floor headquarters in downtown Asheville, also known as “Climate City.”
  • More than 6,000 individuals have attended events at The Collider, not including personal meetings among staff, members, and their guests.
  • The Collider has hosted and/or organized an average of 15 events per month in our venue space.
  • We have big plans for 2017 and beyond!

As we look ahead to the possibilities of another year, we invite you to join with us in celebrating some of the milestones of our past year. Thank you for your continued support.


January / February 2016

  • The long-held dream of a space where public, private, academic, and nonprofit businesses and organizations can “strategically collide” to develop market-driven solutions for climate begins to take shape.
  • Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, The Collider announces its readiness to answer the challenge for private investment in climate action., a story that was picked up by the publication Southeast Green, among others.
  • Along with other partners in climate services and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe, The Collider participates in touting Asheville as “Climate City” at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society.
  • While our building remains under construction one of our inaugural members, UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center, is featured on UNC-TV prior to their move to The Collider.

March 2016

  • Before we officially open our doors, a crowd of more than 100 joins the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (which awarded The Collider with grant monies from the Tourism Product Development Fund) for an event on March 3 at The Collider.
  • The launch event, attended by some 230 members of the climate services community along with business, civic, academic and elected leaders, garners significant media coverage, including Politico (with the header “Coworking to save the planet”), Bloomberg Government, and even a TV station in Hawaii.
  • The Collider is featured in a Forbes commentary that says, “…The community that is emerging around The Collider sees climate change as an opportunity, one that can put this growing network of climate innovators and scientists smack in the middle of a growing $1 trillion dollar industry.”
  • The Asheville Citizen-Times publishes a front-page Sunday profile of The Collider’s founding philanthropist Mack Pearsall with the headline, “Asheville’s ‘impatient philanthropist’ sets sights on climate jobs.”
  • Thought leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators gather at The Collider to discuss the growing tech ecosystem in the Asheville community as part of an Innovation Economies event with a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

April 2016

  • Climate scientists from around the globe, including Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, England, Ireland, Japan, China, and France, conduct a series of meetings over four days at The Collider.
  • The Asheville chapter of the American Meteorological Society conducts a public program on “The Story of Climate” at The Collider.
  • A handful of Collider cowork members meet for an informal coffee hour later dubbed the “PercCollider.” Today the weekly gathering is enjoyed by the larger climate services community, along with friends, university students, special guests, and others interested in learning about The Collider. As many as 75 individuals have been known to join in, sometimes with a special presentation or sponsor as part of the event.
  • Community leaders with Asheville HUB Alliance meet at The Collider for a presentation on Asheville’s potential for economic development in the environmental and climate services cluster.

May 2016

  • The Dogwood Alliance, a national, Asheville-based nonprofit focused on forest protection, conducts a staff retreat at The Collider – the first of several events the organization holds at The Collider, including an upcoming event focused on forests and climate change, March 21, 2017.
  • Among the venue rentals for major events this month are a three-day sales management conference involving businesspeople from up the Eastern Seaboard and a private evening reception hosted by a local company for their top customers.

JUNE 2016

  • Trillions magazine publishes an article about The Collider that starts like this: “Right in the middle of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, is a somewhat ordinary-looking building. Inside, however, is something far from ordinary. It is the beginning of a revolution, in how to deal with the biggest problem the world has ever known – climate change, and in how to bring together a group to help solve it.”
  • A professional development panel discussion with NASA DEVELOP Interns from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, the University of Virginia Wise County, and the University of Georgia takes place at The Collider.
  • Thanks to the efforts of the nonpartisan Citizens Climate Lobby, U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry, serving the 10th district of NC, tours The Collider and learns about the work of our members and Asheville’s climate services community.

JULY 2016

  • With the headline “Globe Turning to Asheville’s tech to help assess flood risks,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reports on UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling & Analysis Center (NEMAC), located at The Collider, winner of the “Special Achievement in GIS Award” from Esri, a world leader in geographic information system technology.
  • A Mountain Xpress cover story about Asheville’s climate services industry features The Collider and several of our members and partners, complete with archival photos of the early days of NOAA in Western North Carolina.
  • The Center for Weather and Climate, part of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, moves its monthly State of The Climate briefing to The Collider, where it continues to be held each month.
  • NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Kathy Sullivan, with NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, tour The Collider and meet personally with some of our members.
  • Mack Pearsall, founding philanthropist of The Collider, with his wife Janice, establish an apprenticeship program in honor of Dr. Tom Karl, upon Dr. Karl’s retirement as Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The first two student interns in the program start their work at The Collider in January 2017.
  • A delegation from Kazakhstan travels to The Collider to meet with member Eyes on Earth, a company that uses satellite observations to monitor water resources, crop development, and predict yields around the world.

August 2016

  • James McMahon is named the new CEO of The Collider. Most recently serving as senior advisor to Dr. Tom Karl, the Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, James is recognized as a “boundary expert” with experience as a climate scientist in the public and academic settings, as well as a business executive, having held leadership positions in companies ranging from small startups to a Fortune 500 corporation.
  • The Collider hosts the project results of high school students in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy and of university students and young professionals in the NOAA/NASA DEVELOP research program.
  • Public radio WCQS and the Asheville Citizen-Times interview climate scientist Dr. L. DeWayne Cecil, whose office is located at The Collider, about his role in an upcoming expedition to locate Amelia Earhart’s aircraft.
  • In partnership with Asheville Museum of Science, The Collider hosts its first Beer City Science Pub, focused on the Amelia Earhart expedition. The partnership continues monthly with lectures on a variety of science-related topics and craft beer donated by local breweries.
  • Collider members CASE Consultants International and FernLeaf Interactive partner to develop a new online tool showing areas where the environmental conditions are right for the mosquito that can carry the Zika virus, garnering significant media coverage.
  • Among the organizations using The Collider space this month for executive retreats are a national company with expertise in vehicle data systems and a regional health education organization.

September 2016

  • In a cover story titled “A Catalyst for Change,” WNC Magazine’s innovation issue focuses on The Collider and our partners in the climate services industry, and why experts are looking to Asheville for solutions to climate change. The magazine hosts a launch party at The Collider to celebrate the edition, attended by more than 100 leaders in business and climate services.
  • Managers with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information conduct a four-day retreat at The Collider.
  • The campaign for Hillary Clinton contacts The Collider seeking to bring daughter Chelsea Clinton to Asheville to host a clean energy event at The Collider. The event draws nearly 300 supporters and regional media outlets. Local media coverage includes public radio WCQS (also here), WLOS-TV (also here) and Asheville Citizen-Times.
  • Climate Connection, offering radio programming through Yale University, broadcasts a story about The Collider that airs across the country.
  • A book called Preparing for a World that Doesn’t Exist – Yet: Creating a Framework for Communities of the Future mentions The Collider in a chapter on “Creative Molecular Economy” (chapter review here).
  • Middle school students with Asheville City Schools’ “In Real Life” program begin a weekly after-school career development program at The Collider, where they work with global climate experts to explore climate change solutions.
  • The Collider and several of our member organizations have a significant presence at the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference, serving as speakers and panelists, as well as exhibiting and presenting posters. photos

October 2016

  • The Collider is the site of a sold-out crowd for the return of TEDx Asheville.
  • Megan Robinson is named Executive Director of The Collider, responsible for day-to-day operations and internal strategic development of programming, membership, cowork, and events, having previously served as program and policy analyst for the Deputy Director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
  • North Carolina municipalities awarded designation as InnovateNC communities gather at The Collider for a two-day cross-city visit to hear about Asheville and The Collider’s emerging innovation ecosystem in the climate services.
  • Among the groups using space at The Collider for educational and training events are a company that produces software for the healthcare industry and Western North Carolina Nonprofit Pathways.

November 2016

  • Collider member Climate Interactive, having recently returned from COP 22 and recognized nationally and even internationally as experts on climate policy, is interviewed by several major media outlets about the implications of the Trump presidency for climate action.
  • The City of Asheville with help from Collider member NEMAC – UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center – drafts a climate resiliency plan, which is presented to the public and City Council members at an event at The Collider.
  • Seasoned event planner Leah Donatelli joins the staff as Office & Events Manager, rounding out The Collider’s team of CEO James McMahon, Executive Director Megan Robinson, and Director of Communications Kathi Petersen.

December 2016

  • The Collider partners with the Inter-American Development Bank and London-based climate consultancy Acclimatise on a daylong workshop, “Investing in Climate Resilience,” providing Collider members the opportunity to present their climate solutions and introducing investors in North and South America to the growth potential in the emerging asset class of climate resilience ventures.
  • One of the largest ever PercCollider coffee hours takes place when local STEM educators join in on the networking, organized by our downstairs neighbor and partner, Asheville Museum of Science.

Looking Ahead: January/February/March 2017 & Beyond

As we launch our second year, we’re excited about plans for expanding The Collider beyond the four walls of our building, welcoming members, supporters, and sponsors that may be located down the street, across the country, or around the world.

We’re also looking forward to more opportunities to provide space for conferences, meetings, receptions, and an array of special events – from the monthly Beer City Science Pub with Asheville Museum of Science, to our climate and environmental film series with Oskar Blues Brewery, to our climate education seminars for professional industry groups such as the American Institute of Architects.

And we’re thrilled about helping to bring astrophysicist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to Asheville on June 13 – just days after hosting Rear Admiral Dr. David W. Titley, retired from the U.S. Navy and now an advisory board member of the non-partisan security and foreign policy institute, The Center for Climate and Security.

Even more exciting are our plans for spearheading Asheville’s first conference devoted to innovation in climate solutions – that is, the business of climate. Featuring activities for businesses, students, and the general public, ClimateCon 2018 will provide unequivocal proof of Asheville’s deserving global status as “Climate City.”